This girl had days before her father’s murder, saved a young boy from being run over by a car, and was heralded as a hero and her whole benevolent life put on display, her studious nature came to light, her willingness to help her parents at the store even though she could have avoided by using her studies as an excuse. The fallout from that crime had been overwhelming, the demands for justice seemed never ending. Panther roamed the streets of downtown for years, stealing, beating, and murdering. His name became synonymous with darkness, brutality, and violence…And then suddenly he disappeared…
The stories were short and left room for speculation and wonderment. Gamins are children of extremely poor people, who live in makeshift homes in the outskirts of downtown in the hills, and in rainy season mudslides destroy these shacks along with its inhabitants because they are made of spare metal, wood, and whatever else can be found. So, the argument calling the whole thing a hoax somewhat made sense, that these gamins were underprivileged children trying to survive and could not be blamed for such horrific crimes. Pictures of the notes depicted beautiful penmanship, something that requires practice and education.
The research on paper came to a halt, as well as the accounts of those who’d been around at the time, they all pretty much had the same information contained in the papers; to know more a leap of faith had to be taken, and I ventured into that part of the city where laws don’t exist and everyone keeps their mouth shut in order to remain alive. Dark and ominous streets, a world of decay, violence, and poverty, mixed with depravity and brutal indifference.
A part of town where even police officers would think twice before traveling them at night, a place where respect has no meaning, fear, however is the driving force. Danger lurked around every corner, angry stares looked on and they were met with resolve, no place for defiance for those who don’t have much to lose. Seedy characters standing by a lamppost smoking things that gave out a nauseating scent of chemicals others with scarred faces and bloodshot eyes drunk out of their minds stood by tiendas, -small convenient stores-, hoping to get a free drink from someone inside. Women with emaciated bodies from a lifetime of late nights, malnutrition, and alcohol use, lifting up their skirts displaying privates which surely could only lead to the emergency room. The cracked and pothole streets reeking of trash, decay, and feces where dogs with rotting fur from some decease fight along with rats scurrying by for any morsel or piece of rotting flesh from one animal who like them fought for food and lost.
From time to time, someone would ask for change, a cigarette, or just outright say, “hey any chance you could buy me a drink”, funny yes, but in retrospect pitiful. One night an old man asked me for a cigarette which I produced from my pocket and lit it for him.
“Thank you, you aren’t from around here.
“No, I am not”, I replied somewhat hesitant, to let someone in such parts know I was invading their territory.